A Close Look at Barnes & Noble’s nook

By Carissa J. Bernard

Note: Barnes and Noble (B&N) lists both nook and The Nook as acceptable methods of naming the product, but uses “nook” in its own advertising. 

What’s a nook? How does it work?

Introduced on October 20, 2009, Barnes & Noble’s nook is an eReader, which used Fictionwise (bought by B&N in March 2009) as its eBookstore (Ferguson, 2010).  Nook Touch has “a series of infrared sensors that are activated when something physical interrupts the beam… you can use this form of touchscreen with gloves, with a stylus, or really anything that can touch the screen” (Library, 2012). Nook is advancing from a simple e-reader to a multipurpose tablet with each new generation.

What’s the difference among nooks and Amazon Kindles?

The Nook and Kindle both originally had e-Ink displays and similar storage, although now they have progressed to models with LCD screens. Their differences are noticeable, however, through their proprietary eBook style, touchscreen vs. keyboard, and battery life. Due to nook having a touchscreen in place of its keyboard, it compensates for its shortened energy storage with a replaceable battery, something Kindle does not allow its users to do. Kindle allows for Word files, and nook does not. Barnes and Noble has free Wi-Fi in stores to encourage nook’s use but also allows for 3G/4G data use, as does the Kindle (Ferguson, 2010). Pricing for Kindle, nook, and their eBooks are very similar. Kindle uses Amazon’s app store while Nook uses Android services and formatting.

Use and Diffusion

“Barnes and Noble and the Nook family are holding on and appear to be a clear second place as far as sales go. The Sony Reader line is a distant, distant third, and anyone else that’s still competing in the market (Kobo and a few others) are distantly behind them” (Library, 2012). B&N “sold approximately 10,000,000 Nooks” by 2013, according to Barnes & Noble president and NOOK media CEO Michael Huseby. Due to the company losing more revenue than expected, they are working on better programs and products to recover (Nusca, 2013).

Nook has allowed reluctant students to focus on their work due to a lack of other applications, improving the amount of reading completed. Some factors included convenience, novelty, escape, privacy, and flow (Dierking, 2015). One study shows that elementary students with access to devices like the Nook had higher overall scores on tests and more participation in classroom activities (Union, Union, & Green, 2015).

Pros and Cons of the Nook

PRO: Nook allows users to lend out material to anyone with the free B&N reader on their PC, nook, iPhone, Mac, or other smartphone through LendMe program (Ferguson, 2010).

CON: Not all titles are available through the LendMe program. The program only allows a user to “borrow” material for 14 days once. Once the material is lent once, it cannot be lent out again to that user or anyone (Ferguson, 2010).

PRO: Potential adopters can test out nook in any B&N location.

CON: Nook can only be purchased online, although an employee can order it for you at one of their stores.

PRO: Nook (and other eReaders) use E Ink, reducing the amount of battery power used overall.

CON: There were no other functions available (i.e., games) to help the reader or entertain them in other ways. Also, “E Ink simply isn’t capable of the instantaneous response you get from an LCD screen” (Library, 2012).

PRO: The LCD screens on newer models have video and audio capabilities, allowing for further media consumption (Library, 2012).

PRO: Nook has no ads at all (Library, 2012).

PRO: Nook reads EPUB files as well as its own where Kindle only reads AZW files. (Library, 2012).

CON: You cannot purchase a book on another eReader then transfer it to the Nook.


For more information on tablets and other technologies, their impact, and their history:



Dierking, R. (2015). Using Nooks to Hook Reluctant Readers. Journal Of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(5), 407-416. doi:10.1002/jaal.366

E-Readers Now, E-Readers Forever!. (2012). Library Technology Reports, 48(3), 14-20.

Ferguson, C. (2010). Technology Left Behind — Barnes and Noble Carves a nook in the eReader Market.Against the Grain, 22(1), 81-85. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/2380-176X.5870

Nusca, A. (2013, August 20). For Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the beginning of the end: Revenues are collapsing. Margins are thinning. Is it the final chapter for the U.S. book retailer’s device business? Retrieved April, 2016, from http://www.zdnet.com/article/for-barnes-nobles-nook-the-beginning-of-the-end/

Union, C., Union, L., & Green, T. (2015). The Use of eReaders in the Classroom and at Home to Help Third-grade Students Improve their Reading and English/ Language Arts Standardized Test Scores. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 59(5), 71-84. doi:10.1007/s11528-015-0893-3



Tablet Takeover? The Impact of Tablet Computers

Since the concept of the tablet was created in 1963 with the RAND tablet, it has grown and developed far beyond its original intentions. The spread of this innovation has grown significantly in the past ten years, particularly since 2010.

Changes in Consumption- What happened to previous technology?

  • 66% of Americans own at least two of the following: smartphone, desktop or laptop computer, or tablet. 36% own all three.
  • 68% of adults now have a smartphone, nearly double what it was mid-2011.
  • 45% of U.S. adults own a tablet.
  • 62% of college graduates have a tablet, compared with 35% of those with a high school diploma and 19% who have not completed high school.
  • 19% of adults report owning an e-reader (i.e., Kindle or Nook) primarily for reading e-books. This is a sizable drop from early 2014 (32%).
  • 73% of U.S. adults own a desktop or laptop computer. This number is roughly similar to the levels of a decade ago. In 2012, this number was at 80%.
  • Game console ownership has remained consistent since 2010 (40%).
  • 14% of U.S. adults have a portable gaming device such as a PSP or Sega Genesis game player, similar to 2009.
  • Today, 40% of U.S. adults have an iPod or other MP3 player; in 2013, that share was 43%. This is not a significant change since the 2000s.

Comm 3600 media graphic

  • Overall, new technology has been supplementing (rather than displacing) previous devices and media.
    • Mobile phone of any kind – 91% tablet owners, 74% non-owners
      • Smartphone – 70% tablet owners, 39% non-owners
    • TV any kind – 82% tablet owners, 74% non-owners
      • HDTV – 71% tablet owners, 55% non-owners
    • Laptop computer – 78% tablet owners, 60% non-owners
    • Digital camera of any kind – 75% tablet owners, 59% non-owners
    • Standalone DVD or Blu-ray player – 62% tablet owners, 51% non-owners
    • Home video game console – 55% tablet owners, 33% non-owners
    • Digital video recorder or DVR (TiVo, etc.) – 42% tablet owners, 27% non-owners
    • E-reader – 23% tablet owners, 14% non-owners
    • Handheld video game console – 23% tablet owners, 11% non-owners
    • Set-top streaming media box (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) – 13% tablet owners, 3% non-owners

How does this affect our behavior, particularly for children?

  • Teenagers spend an average of nine hours per day on media use (through TV, Internet, smartphones, and so on) for purposes other than school or homework, and that children ages 8 to 12 spend about six hours per day in these activities.
  • On a typical day, 81% of parents say that their child(ren) that are 5 years old or younger watch TV or movies or play games on any type of electronic device (such as a computer, tablet or cell phone). About 32% of parents whose children have daily screen time worry that their children spend too much time on these devices, although 65% of parents think their children’s screen time is about right.
  • However, children still participate in activities outside of media. comm 3600 child participation graphic
  • The US Census Bureau plans to integrate technological innovation into their survey process by 2020. They believe this will encourage more people to participate and save them billions of dollars.

comm 3600 census bureau graphic

  • There is evidence that people are “addicted” to their technology, particularly their smartphones. The fear of being away from one’s mobile phone is called nomophobia. More than half of Americans have a television in their room and only 13% are without a “screen” of any kind (Television, smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer).


What does this innovation make possible?

With our society’s new focus on self-monitoring, technology is becoming more and more central to our lives.  Chloe Fan, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon’s Human Computer Interaction Institute, decided to take a year off grad school to pursue her dreams regarding data visualization and self-tracking apps. Spark, the product of Fan’s dream, is taking the typical exercise tracking app and making it entertaining.  As the user walks, runs, or jogs throughout the day, the app creates a piece of digital abstract art to show their progress. The size of each circle in the picture designates intensity of activity. Users in a study expressed that the colors, variety of image styles, and challenge of filling up the screen motivated them to be more active. Although the app was in its early stages in 2012, those who are interested can test it out: www.sparkvis.com/fitbit/auth. It connects to Google and FitBit accounts, and the app uses FitBit data to complete the pictures.

Another innovation is the Lullaby project. Many devices and applications, like FitBit or Zeo, only track how you sleep. Matthew Kay, a PhD student in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, alongside Julie Kientz and Shwetak Patel, was inspired by his own poor sleep habits and decided to develop technology to understand improve people’s sleep. Lullaby connects automated sleep-tracking with environmental factors, meaning sound, light, temperature, and motion. While the user wears an off-the-shelf sleep-tracker, an Android tablet collects and presents all of the environmental and biological data. Lullaby contains an infrared camera and audio recorder to allow you to see and hear what disrupts your sleep patterns, allowing you to make adjustments for a good night’s sleep.

Shopping: Do we prefer online or brick-and-mortar?

Online shopping has become so popular that we had to create a “holiday” around it: Cyber Monday. Shoppers are more likely to buy online if there is the offer of free shipping or they need the product as soon as possible. However, there is still a clear preference for shopping in-person.

  • 78% of U.S. adults indicated an in-person preference for general food purchases such as groceries.
  • 67% preferred traditional shopping for over the counter medications
    • 58% when it came to prescription medications
  • 65% wanted to be in-person when purchasing clothing
  • 57% in-person for cosmetics/grooming products as well as specialty food and beverages
  • 55% traditional for household electronics
  • 52% in-person for accessories
  • 43% for in-person shopping for personal electronics vs. 22% with an online shopping preference

For more information on tablets, their impact, and their history:


5. Children’s extracurricular activities. (2015, December 17). Retrieved March, 2016, from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/17/5-childrens-extracurricular-activities/
Anderson, M. (2015, November 25). Smartphone, computer or tablet? 36% of Americans own all three. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/25/device-ownership/
Anderson, M. (2015, October 29). The Demographics of Device Ownership. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/the-demographics-of-device-ownership/
Anderson, M. (2015, October 29). Technology Device Ownership: 2015. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/10/29/technology-device-ownership-2015/
Lemma, S. (2015, April 17). WAKE ME UP: What’s in the Bedroom? (POST 5 IN SERIES) – Edison Research. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://www.edisonresearch.com/wake-me-up-whats-in-the-bedroom/
Li, I. (2012, May 01). Spark: Visualizing Physical Activity Using Abstract Ambient Art – Quantified Self. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://quantifiedself.com/2012/05/spark-visualizing-physical-activity-using-abstract-ambient-art/
Li, I. (2012, March 27). Personal Informatics in Practice − Lullaby: Capturing the Unconscious in the Sleep Environment – Quantified Self. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://quantifiedself.com/2012/03/personal-informatics-in-practice-lullaby-capturing-the-unconscious-in-the-sleep-environment/
Lux, A. (2015). Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Origins of The Tablet. Retrieved March, 2016, from http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/yesterdays-tomorrows-the-origins-of-the-tablet/
Smith, C. (2014, July 16). Just How Bad is Your Mobile Phone Addiction for Your Health? (Infographic). Retrieved March, 2016, from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/mobile-phone-addiction-infographic/

The Wireless Generation: A Look at Tablets and Their Predecessors

Typewriters, telegraphs, telephones, radios, computers, calculators, and more. All of these things can be held in our palm to be used just about anywhere in the world. Smart phones and tablets have become popular for those who are looking for a lightweight alternative to their notebook computer or PC.  What benefits do tablets provide over using other devices? How did this device come about?

What are tablets and why do we use them?

Tablet computers (known popularly as tablets) are lightweight, portable devices with large touchscreens as a source of imput. Similar to the smartphone in concept, tablets have much more computing power and storage capacity. However, they do not have the processing power of personal computers (PCs) or laptops (Cortimiglia, Frank, & Seben, 2013). In the mid-1990s, the tablet format was tested by Newton and Apple and popularized by Microsoft; the design ultimately failed due to limited performance, usability, and commercial success (MacNeill, 1998; Cortimiglia, Frank, & Seben, 2013). The essential ideas behind the personal digital assistant (PDA) were desirable: portable, pen-based, inexpensive, and learns about the user to make informed assumptions (MacNeill, 1998). Microsoft’s Tablet PC launched in 2001 and failed to sell effectively due to their design, but the concept sparked companies like Nokia, Samsung, and HewlettPackard (HP) to experiment with this format (Cortimiglia, Frank, & Seben, 2013).

Currently, tablets are primarily advertised for entertainment purposes. Usually they are built with high-definition color displays, which allows enjoyment and clarity while watching content, using applications, or playing games (Cortimiglia, Frank, & Seben, 2013). Gartner.com estimated that purchases of tablets will more than triple this year from 13 million units in 2012 to about 53 million units. “In 2016, two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile,” said a representative (Gartner, 2012).  A Nielson poll lists the reasons why people use these devices, some of them being that they are portable, their operating system (OS) is easy to use, they are quick to start up/shut off, and they are convenient, small, and lightweight (Newswire, 2011).

What innovations did we need to surpass to get to today’s tablet computers?

In 1977, experimental cellular systems were launched in Chicago, Illinois, and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area. This lead to the first commercial cellular systems in 1983. That same year, Motorola created the DynaTAC mobile telephone unit (also known as “the brick”), the first “mobile” radiotelephone; it only allowed for one hour of talk time approximately every 8 hours. By 1985, 340,213 people had cell phones (CTIA).

In 1988, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s Auxilliary Cellular Services Order adopts technical flexibility rules for cellular radio, which allowed the introduction of advanced cellular technologies and brought subscription rates up to 5 million in 1990 and over 10 million in 1992. In 1993, IBM announces Simon, the first smart phone, which contains basic functions such as email, a calendar, and an address book.  By 1995, approximately 13% of the United States has a cell phone, which rises to 38% five years later (CTIA).  In 2002, camera phones make their American debut.

By this time, wireless has overtaken analog systems, becoming a topic of discussion, and notebook computers are competing with desktops (Cortimiglia, Frank, & Seben, 2013). Congress puts in place the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act  and the Spectrum Relocation Fund to recover costs from relocating certain radio communication systems. iPhone launches in 2007, and this is the beginning of handset innovation. By 2009, approximately 91% of Americans are wireless subscribers, prompting Palm, Blackberry, Nokia, and Windows to open their app stores. The next year, President Obama signs a memorandum committing to freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for the wireless industry, followed by his National Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative to expand wireless coverage in 2011 (CTIA).


Cortimiglia, M., Frank, A., & Seben, L. (2013). Tablets: The Next Disruptive Computing Technology? IT Professional, 15(3), 18-25. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6365163

Gartner (2012). Gartner Says 821 Million Smart Devices Will Be Purchased Worldwide in 2012; Sales to Rise to 1.2 Billion in 2013.” (2012, November 6). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2227215

MacNeill, D. (1998). Pen Computing Magazine: Why did Apple kill the Newton? Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.pencomputing.com/frames/newton_obituary.html

Newswire . (2011, May 5). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2011/connected-devices-how-we-use-tablets-in-the-u-s.html